RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – Del. Hala Ayala (D-Prince William) beat out a crowded field of candidates in Tuesday’s primary to secure the Democratic nomination for Virginia lieutenant governor.

Ayala, who identifies as Afro-Latina, Lebanese and Irish, will go head-to-head against GOP nominee Winsome Sears in the Nov. 2 general election.

Ayala, a cybersecurity specialist, was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 2017 and serves as the chamber’s chief deputy whip. A member of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, Ayala worked to help expand Medicaid in the commonwealth and said during her campaign that she believes access should be expanded even further. 

Ayala backs expanding Pre-K, funding for school infrastructure and co-patroned legislation to provide free community college to students pursuing jobs in high-demand fields. On her campaign website, Ayala touts her work on bills to legalize marijuana, abolish the death penalty and expunge non-violent marijuana charges. 

The official duties of Virginia’s lieutenant governor are to preside over the Virginia Senate as the president of the chamber and to succeed the governor if they were to leave office for any reason before their term is over. 

As president of the Virginia Senate, the lieutenant governor casts tie-breaking votes when senators are split on a measure and can make rulings on disputes between lawmakers.

If elected, Ayala would be the first woman to serve as Virginia lieutenant governor and the first woman of color to win statewide office. Sears could become the first Black woman to win statewide office in Virginia.

This story is developing. Check back for updates.